According to Webster's Dictionary, the word 'redeem' means "to free from the consequences of sin." Although, it was not my sin, I still desperately need to be freed of the consequences.

"Redeemed women of God have tender merciful hearts, backbones of steel, and hands that are prepared for the fight." - Staci Elderidge

"Even though my heart has been broken at times, I want to retain a tender merciful heart- the kind of heart that is vulnerable, open to all emotions, and engaged in honest, intimate relationships. If my heart is hardened, no matter the cause, I cannot live to my fullest potential.

By setting and holding emotional, physical and spiritual boundaries and standing up with courageous determination to what I know to be right, I continue to forge my backbone of steel.

As women, I believe we want to fight against evil, and we have power greater than we've ever imagined to aid us in that fight."
- Rhyll Croshaw

Friday, September 29, 2017

The First One

The first one happened at Disney World.  The happiest place on earth.  It was the third day of vacation.  We were tired; we run ourselves ragged on vacation, afraid to miss anything.
I awoke with a start at 3 am feeling like I was going to toss my cookies.  I ran to the bathroom in our hotel room.  Over and over I wretched, but nothing came up so I finally climbed back in bed exhausted.  For hours I repeated this cycle.  Finally my husband got up and took all of the kids to the park while I lay in bed.

I was on vacation.  And I was missing it.

Was I pregnant?  I got a test from the store downstairs and took it.  Negative.

Did I have the flu?  Maybe.

I called my insurance nurse line.  Was it a heart attack?  I doubt it.  There is a family heart issue and my heart has been checked and monitored better than most.

What was this?

By noon, I was feeling better.  I met my family in the park at 1:00.  I was weak, shaky and queasy, but I managed fine.

I guess it was the flu.

Except the whole thing started again the next morning at 3 am.  I sent my family to the parks and met them by 11:00.  I was on the roller coaster by 3:00 pm.

I drug myself out of bed and packed my family the next morning.  Phase two of vacation was starting and we had a cruise to catch.  I thought I was going to die standing in line that morning.

What was wrong with me?  The flu doesn't only hit in the mornings.  I'd never experienced anything like this.
Surely I'd be dead by now if it was a heart attack.  But still... I almost didn't get on the boat.  (I called my doctor and he said, "No way are you having a heart attack.  Get on the boat and drink some water.  Maybe you are dehydrated.")

Every morning was better than the one before.  But I was sick in the morning for weeks.

And no one could tell me why.

Episode after episode.  Doctor after doctor.  Specialist after specialist.  Until one day, I was describing how I felt during the episodes.  Felt emotionally.  And suddenly Paul said, "oh!  You are having panic attacks!"

What? Me?  

But, I don't even generally have anxiety.  How could that be.

But it is.  I life my days relatively anxiety free.  But my nights- that's when my trauma haunts me.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

PANIC!

The last one began the moment my head hit the pillow.

Or I guess more accurately- the moment the silence ensued.

Maybe it was because of the news story about the most recent world tragedy.  Or maybe it was Paul's joking comment about how he hoped "The Big One" wouldn't hit our kids at home while we were away for the weekend.  Most likely it was a combination of tiny triggers that have added up over time that I've tried to ignore.

I guess I should start paying more attention.

This one was a little different than the one before- they all seem to have their own traits, like an abuser with a snarky personality.

The moment I closed my eyes, it hit me like a hot blanket was laid on top of me.  One moment I was fine, happy even, and the next moment my heart was pounding, my neck was warm and clammy and my face felt hot.  The heat enveloped my body like the day my cousin walked me into the hot yoga studio.

Oh hell.  It's starting.

I knew instantly what was happening; it's no longer like the first ones where I literally thought I was dying.  I knew it wasn't a heart attack, that has been extensively checked over the last year.  Nor did I have the flu, like I thought when this happened at Disney World.

It was just a panic attack.

Two years ago, I'd never even experienced one but in April 2016, something in me just broke and I seem to get one after another now....

I laid in bed in the new felt heat and used all of my tricks.  I practiced the alphabet backwards, but I can do it in 7 seconds now so it doesn't really help like it used to.  I sang The Little Mermaid's "Part of That World" to myself in my head.  I must have drifted off to sleep but I woke up at midnight, still in the thick of it.  I felt like my insides were screaming, "Danger!  Danger!"  I swear you could see my heart pounding just by looking at my chest.  My hands were starting to tingle.  So, I practiced my 7 times tables and sang "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" and drifted off again.  When I awoke at 1:00, I practiced my 6 times tables and silently repeated, "I am safe.  My family is safe.  We are completely safe and I am not dying."  When I awoke at 2:30, it began to fade.  But, the moment I remembered what the anxiety was screaming, I could pull it back.  So, I distracted myself with trying to remember my to-do list for the next day.  At 4:00 I was back to the alphabet and at 6:00, I was up.  Wide awake with no hope of sleep.  I could feel the come-down beginning.  It always follows the same pattern and when it starts my heart says a silent prayer of thanks.  I know the feelings of the Come-Down.

Not that doing that makes it any less intense.  

The come-down always begins with the feeling like my inside is exploding.  As if my emotions are too large for my body and they are ripping me apart to get to the outside.  That's probably why I am jerked wide awake.  I want to grab something and wring it!  Once I feel like I might literally explode then the chills start.  They rotate between hot sweats and cold chills.  I'm hot and clammy and then I'm uncontrollably shivering.  But, with each shiver, my body, mind and soul take a collective break and calm just a bit.  The hot and cold can go back and forth like I'm the ball in a tennis match.  And if that wasn't enough, then last, always last, comes the desperation.  This is when I call my dad in the middle of the night.  I wake my husband in a panic.  This is when I'm sure I have some incurable disease and I need to go to every doctor tomorrow.  This is when I Vox my besties and cry into my childhood blanket for my mother who died over 30 years ago.  This is when I am at my most vulnerable.  

And then it's over.  Always by 7 am.  7:30 at the latest.  I shower.  I dress.  Sometimes I exercise.  I drive my kids to school or walk them to the bus.  I volunteer, I carpool, I mom.  And the only one that knows, or can even guess, is the one who I turned to in my desperation.  The one who saw me in my most messy form.  My days are normal.  I'm tired.  Wiped out usually.  Sometimes nauseous for a few days if that was my primary symptom, but I'm so used to living with nausea, you couldn't even tell that.

Drifting off or waking from sleep triggers panic attacks. in me.  Most often I wake up in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of them. It took us a year to figure out what was even happening.

I've had breaks, reprieves.  Sometimes, like this week, I have multiple attacks in a week.  Sometimes I go months without them.  I worked really hard to have a healthy summer, I did so much work.  Meds, doctors, therapists and meditation, only to have life trigger me back into it.

Overall, life is really good right now.  Amazing really.  If I could just sleep without slipping into panic.  

But, that's what happens when you break.